Category Archives: Australia

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President of World Bank: DLT Has “Huge Potential” in Fighting Poverty

Jim Yong Kim, Korean president of the World Bank, has publicly come out in favor of blockchain technology as a tool for fighting poverty in a speech on the Indonesian Island of Bali.

Kim made the comments at the IMF and the World Bank Annual Meeting on October 11, suggesting that DLT had “huge potential” and as a result, the World Bank must keep abreast of emerging technologies.

The World Bank, part of the World Bank Group, is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects. It is comprised of two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association.

At the forefront of all World Bank projects is the need to fight poverty, particularly in underdeveloped or developing nations. Kim referred to the need to combat corruption, often a barrier to successfully supporting developing nations, suggesting that this is a particular area where blockchain could make a significant impact. He commented:

“…we think distributed ledger has huge potential and we issued the first blockchain bond in August, where we created, allocated, transferred and managed the entire bond through blockchain technology.”

He went on to point out that the goal of the bank is to develop universal access to financial services by 2020 which he felt would be unlikely to occur without embracing available technologies and taking advantage of some of the “great things that are coming out,” referring to blockchain and AI.

As Bitcoin News reported recently, the World Bank and The Commonwealth Bank of Australia combined to create an Ethereum-based Australian dollar blockchain bond earlier this year. As for selecting both the CBA and Ethereum for the project, World Bank treasurer Arunma Oteh said that it had worked with the Australian bank for a year before it could launch the project. Ethereum was top of its list as it had “the largest and most active development community globally”.

Oteh continued on a positive note stating that the bank “will continue to seek ways to leverage emerging technologies to make capital markets more secure and efficient.”

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 5th to 11th October 2018

Asia and Australia

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

South Korea

South Korea to decide on ICO legality in November: The legality of initial coin offerings (ICOs) will be decided in November this year, according to a government source in the South Korean Ministry of Government Coordination.

The chief of the office Hong Nam-Ki provided valuable insight regarding government’s position on ICOs. While he was coy about what the government would eventually decide, he said survey results will be received from blockchain companies by the end of October and then the government will deliberate on whether to allow them or not.

The Korean Blockchain Association is making a strong case for removing the ban on ICOs in the country while advocating for them in a National Library seminar in the capital. Its chairman, Chin Dae-je, said that allowing new ICOs will bring in new jobs and benefit the economy.

Bithumb acquired by Singapore group: One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea, Bithumb, has been acquired by a Singapore-based medical group in a USD 354 million deal. Bithumb suffered a major exchange hack back in June this year with more than KRW 35 billion (USD 40 million) lost and has been in rebuilding phase ever since.

Interestingly, the new stakeholder is a plastic surgeon named Kim Byung Gun and he has purchased a 51% majority stake in the exchange. Despite the recent hack, Bithumb’s daily trading volume is still the sixth largest in the world behind Binance, OKEx, Huobi, Bitfinex and Upbit.

Japan

New science minister has pro-blockchain history: The latest addition in the Japanese cabinet, Science Minister Takua Hirai, has a well-known pro-blockchain stance. His experience will prove to be crucial in the promotion of the cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption in the country.

Earlier this year, Hirai was a senior advisor to a study group which had been set up to lay down rules for the adoption of ICOs and offer proposals for the Financial Services Agency (FSA). He also orchestrated a bill back in 2017 that legalized cryptocurrencies in the country. While agencies like FSA have tightened crypto rules, the crypto community can look forward to the new appointment with optimism.

China

Government claims blockchain standards will guide industry: The China Electronics Standardization Institute (CESI), a government institute, has announced a new project that will determine helpful blockchain-related standards in the country to increase efficient utilization of DLT.

While the organization is aimed at standardizing the industry, three separate models will be issued for smart contracts, privacy and deposits. The standards are expected to be released in 2019.

Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)

Congressman proposes extension of AML laws to include crypto: A Taiwanese lawmaker is hoping to introduce new legislation in the Congress to include cryptocurrencies in the anti-money laundering framework in the country.

Congressman Jason Hsu has proposed an amendment to the current Money Laundering Control Act to have cryptocurrencies face the same legal course as fiat currencies. It is also expected to add new rules that are crypto-specific in nature. The bill is very similar to the one proposed and adopted by the European Union earlier this year.

Singapore

Financial regulator to address crypto-related complaints against banks: The Singaporean financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has said that it is willing to support cryptocurrency projects including exchanges that are having problems with bank accounts in the country.

Some crypto firms complained about the banking system’s bias towards cryptocurrencies that has resulted in several account closures and suspensions. MAS is now working with the crypto projects to address the lingering issue.

Thailand

Government exploring blockchain application in agriculture, finance, IP: The Thai Ministry of Commerce is exploring the option of using blockchain technology for the betterment of three industries, namely agriculture, finance and IP.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon from the Trade and Strategy Office in an interview with the Bangkok Post said that the government is making an effort to use DLT for boosting credibility and efficiency of the country’s various industries.

Australia

Government testing smart money for disability insurance: A federal research branch called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is partnering with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CommBank) for a proof-of-concept blockchain for disability insurance.

Together, the two organizations will use the blockchain to create smart money, as they call it, for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). As of now, a prototype has been developed by the participants of the scheme.

 

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Australia Tests Blockchain ‘Smart Money’ for Disability Insurance

A federal research branch of the Australian government has partnered with a major national bank to conduct blockchain testings for disability insurance claims via a smart contract-backed token.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CommBank) announced details of the ”Making Money Smart” project Tuesday, saying they are currently testing the proof-of-concept.

Together, they will investigate the usability of blockchain in creating what they describe as “smart money”, using Australia‘s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) as an initial case study.

Through binding smart contracts encoded into tokens, the project is attempting to solve the issue of NDIS funds being spent outside of the scheme’s preconditions, such as on banned items, outside of the restricted time frame, and by the wrong people. These ”highly personalized payment conditions” were the reason it was chosen for the first proof of concept, to ensure that blockchain technology could meet all of the necessary requirements.

So far, a prototype app has been developed for participants in the NDIS scheme, which aims to give users improved management over their plans by giving them a direct, paperless method for finding, booking, and paying for NDIS service. The proof of concept has received input from government officials and industry leaders, right now being tested by NDIS participants and carers.

Several external participants helping collaborate on the project are cited as the Digital Transformation Agency, the Department of Human Services, FinTech Australia and the Australian Digital Commerce Association.

Sophie Gilder, Head of Experimentation and Blockchain at the Innovation Lab, CBA said that due to the complexity of the project, she recognized a substantial amount of feedback from different organizations with a variety of expertise would be most beneficial. Gilder said, “We threw open the doors and the response has far exceeded our expectations,” a press release reports.

A further more detailed report on the Making Money Smart trial will be shared with the public in November, including information regarding the design, benefits, limitations, and viability for the token to be used in other cases.

 

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Crypto POS Comes to Nigeria, Reflects Global Trend

Nigeria is cashing in on its first crypto-based point of sale (POS) system which will enable users to pay in Bitcoin and Ether along with the country’s local currency, the Naira.

Globally the amount of such crypto-based POS systems is on the rise, with Indonesian payment company PundiX hugely influential in facilitating the spread. POS provider PundiX, has also recently announced a partnership with Hong Kong group FAMA to improve retailing using cryptocurrency for purchasing organic foods throughout the company’s chain.

Such solutions for mainstream consumers will simplify cryptocurrency transactions, enabling retail outlets to install their POS devices for speedy acquisition or spending of major cryptocurrencies and could become the future for both retailers and consumers.

The same company has finalized a POS deal with Brazil’s BitCapital that will see 1,000 X POS devices distributed to hundreds of retail outlets there. BitCapital states one of its main goals as creating an infrastructure network that can make cryptocurrency to fiat transactions as straightforward as it’s achievable.

PundiX’ move into the African continent is unsurprising given recent attention by fintech companies eying the opportunities for business in the sector. Michael Lawal, business development manager at PundiX, explains the simplicity of how the system works, talking a user through a demonstration of the first live transaction in the African continent:

“I have 0.01 BTC and I am going to make a transaction of 200 Naira …The cashier provides three options – to pay either with cash, XPOS card or XPOS Wallet. If you are paying with Xwallet you will need to scan a QR code…Once you choose your payment option, the cashier automatically calculates the rate of conversion using current market rates to the local currency, which is Naira. You have two seconds lock-in period to safeguard the consumer and the merchant.”

The system only takes seconds to confirm a transaction issuing an instant receipt outlining all of the details of the payment.

Nigeria could become a major fintech center given that the country holds Africa’s largest contingent of Bitcoin users and has a population of 185 million, representing the continent’s largest population of potential users and investors. Local Bitcoins is reported to have seen a trading volume of $260 million in this year to date.

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 21st to 27th September 2018

Asia and Australia

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

South Korea

South Korea may reverse crypto ban: Regulators of South Korean markets are reportedly softening their stance on ICOs and cryptocurrencies and may lift the blanket ban on ICOs imposed last year.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) took these measures because of consistent hacks occurring in Korean exchanges. Various cryptocurrency exchanges got hacked and lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Some exchanges were also suspected of illegal activity. But, due to increased security measures and Anti Money Laundering (AML) laws being implemented, the authority may look to reverse its earlier decisions on banning ICOs.

North Korea

Government thought to be using crypto to circumvent US sanctions: The North Korean government is using cryptocurrencies to avoid US sanctions on it, according to international money laundering and intelligence experts Lourdes Miranda and Ross Delston.

They said in a joint statement:

“International criminals everywhere prefer cryptocurrencies and the DPRK (North Korea) is no exception. Cryptocurrencies have the added advantage to the DPRK of giving them more ways to circumvent US sanctions. They can do so by using multiple international exchangers, mixing and shifting services – mirroring the money laundering cycle – to exploit international financial institutions that have correspondent banking relationships with the United States.”

The move could spell further weakening of the US-controlled financial model that is currently widely accepted in the world.

Japan

Government fumes at $60 million hack of exchange: The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) is fuming at the latest hack occurring in Japanese exchange Zaif that saw almost USD 60 million stolen from investors. 

What is so frustrating for the FSA is that the exchange was given two warnings earlier to drastically improve their security system but it did not. The FSA has opened an investigation into the Zaif hack to help devise methods for exchanges to protect themselves in the future.

Mt Gox exchange confirms Bitcoin sell-off: Defunct cryptocurrency exchange Mt Gox’s has confirmed that it has liquidated over USD 230 million worth of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash from its wallets.

The exchange suffered a mammoth USD 470 million hack back in 2014 and declared bankruptcy. Now the recent sell-off is allowing the company to get out of bankruptcy by compensating its investors and getting into a rehabilitation program.

Malaysia

Government encouraging industries to adopt blockchain: The top three industries of Malaysia are being asked to promote blockchain growth in them that will enable transparency, efficiency and sustainability by a government-formed task force. The three top sectors include renewable energy, palm oil and Islamic finance.

In the energy sector, the government is confident to lead the growth in renewable energy with the help of blockchain technology by categorizing energy as green or emission-related. Similarly, in banking and palm oil, blockchain technology can create a recipe for success according to the government.

Hong Kong

Stock exchange firm announcing blockchain and fintech acquisition strategy: The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is looking to invest in blockchain and other fintech companies starting next year.

The progressive move was announced due to increased interest by the public in the blockchain space and encouraging government attitude. The stock exchange is already partnering with Australian Securities Exchange to implement blockchain technology in its system.

Australia

Research blockchain to conduct 30,000 cross-border transactions per second: Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is testing a new blockchain developed by the University of Sydney group called Red Belly Network and can reportedly process 30,000 transactions per second.

The Concurrent Systems Research Group (CSRG) of the university was behind the creation of this project and the blockchain will help CSIRO to improve the speed of cross-border transactions to help monitor environmental risks including those posed to marine life.

 

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Australian Red Belly Blockchain to Process 30,000 Cross-Border Transactions Per Second

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has completed a test with the University of Sydney to improve the speed of cross-border transactions.

The new Red Belly Blockchain network, which has been created with support from the Concurrent Systems Research Group (CSRG) from the University of Sydney, is capable of processing 30,000 cross-border transactions per second.

The CSIRO is an independent Australian federal government agency responsible for scientific research. Its chief role is to improve the economic and social performance of industry for the benefit of the community. The organization has a hugely diverse portfolio of aims across all sectors, even monitoring the risk that plastic pollution poses to the world’s declining sea turtle populations.

The recent network test was carried out by CSIRO’s tech arm, Data61, covering 1,000 nodes across 14 countries in the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe. The organization claims its benchmark was set “by sending 30,000 transactions per second from different geographic regions”.

Senior CSIRO researcher at Data61 Dr Vincent Gramoli said, “Real-world applications of blockchain have been struggling to get off the ground due to issues with energy consumption and complexities induced by the proof of work.”

With an average latency of three seconds, the Red Belly Network promises to be capable of facilitating large-scale business in the country and boosting smart contract usage. In keeping with Australia’s push to promote fintech in the country, such research is immensely important if the country is to become the regional blockchain hub that it aspires to be, according to recent government statements.

The new prime minister Scott Morrison has indicated that the country needs to continue on its research and development if its to keep on its current path. Morrison noted that the contributions of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain in the financial sector would continue to create “massive opportunities”. He maintained that the Australian banking system would also be able to utilize these technologies to transform areas of consumer data rights, open banking reforms, and new legislation.

 

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Australia To Get Its First Stablecoin Next Year

Next year, Australia will get its first stablecoin developed in partnership between a local exchange and a crypto employment platform.

The Emparta infrastructure empowers employers and job-seekers with instant onboarding and optional payments in cryptocurrency, allowing businesses to identify, select, and onboard employees. The company will combine with crypto exchange Bit Trade to release the coin according to an announcement made this week.

Bit Trade has announced that it wants to be the first one in Australia to use the virtual currency, suggesting that due to its value being backed by an underlying asset it will be less liable to volatility. Bit Trade’s managing director Jonathon Miller sees the stablecoin doing as its name suggests in a fluctuating crypto market. He commented:

“Stablecoins solve one of the principal issues that may drive investors seeking steady returns and merchants that currently accept traditional currency away from digital currencies: volatility.”

Miller sees such coins as going a long way to promoting further interest in the country’s already flourishing crypto market, given that the regulatory environment continues to move in the right direction. Currently, Australians are showing more interest in cryptocurrencies, with recent figures from HiveEX showing that those ‘hodling’ crypto assets have increased from 5% in January to 13.5% when the figures were reviewed in August of this year. Bit Trade’s chief added that this level of adoption could well continue with such introductions into the market:

“We believe that stablecoins will boost trust, accelerate wide-spread adoption, and could function as the backbone of blockchain-based financial applications, especially here in Australia given the favourable regulatory environment.”

In order to back the stablecoin with Australian dollars, the first treasury of the new stable coin would be held in Australia, the AUD-backed coin being redeemable on demand. Currently, there are other stablecoins available along with Tether, including the newly announced Gemini Dollar.

This stablecoin, launched by the Winklevoss twins, will allow users a one to one exchange on the US dollar on the Ethereum blockchain. They commented on the approval, suggesting that their thinking behind Gemini was a “first step… making it safe and easy to buy, sell, and store cryptocurrencies”.

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Asia and Australia Cryptocurrency News Roundup 14-20 September 2018

Welcome to another weekly blockchain and cryptocurrency news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country. Next up is Asia and Australia.

Japan

Financial regulator reveals update for crypto regulation: Japan’s top financial regulator is updating the public regarding the ongoing crypto regulation deliberations. The Financial Services Agency (FSA) held its fifth cryptocurrency study group meeting on September 12, 2018 and also revealed that more than 160 companies were aiming to get into the crypto space and three current cryptocurrency operators were being reviewed.

The agency is currently reviewing different approaches towards cryptocurrency regulation in the country. The main problem in reviewing applications is a lack of manpower available at the agency and therefore, the agency is also looking for additional workforce.

South Korea

Samsung’s blockchain technology to help improve Customs Service: Samsung is set to develop a blockchain-based platform to be used by South Korea’s Customs Services. Samsung SDS, the IT wing of the electronics company is developing the new program on Nexledger, which is currently being used by businesses to help reduce wastage and increase cost effectiveness in data exchange and financial transactions.

Now the South Korean Customs Service is signing up for the platform in order to streamline the Customs process that involves millions of goods that need to be cleared. The platform will also help in detecting forged trade documentation.

Ministry of Science and Information Communication Systems to help blockchain growth: The South Korean Ministry of Science and Information Communication System has announced that it is going to announce steps to support the blockchain industry development in the country. 

During a recent meeting between the blockchain startups and Second Vice Minister of Science and ICT Min Won-ki, the minister reiterated the government’s support for the crucial futuristic technology and its development.

Min said:

“Considering the fact that there is no significant blockchain technology gap between South Korea and the other countries, it is a good opportunity for South Korea to lead the industry. The government will actively back domestic companies to help them lead the global blockchain market.”

South Korea is pacing its blockchain development nicely but there are significant challenges in place for the future.

China

Chinese woman embarks on a 21-day Bitcoin challenge: A Chinese woman recently undertook a 21-day Bitcoin challenge that was aired on their popular streaming service iQiyi.

The challenge involves surviving across China for 21 days with just 0.21 BTC in her mobile wallet. She cannot convert it into fiat and has to engage with real-life people to make Bitcoin transactions. The show provides valuable insight into the cryptocurrency scene in China, which despite blanket government bans, has a vibrant presence.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong firm launches stablecoin, defying Chinese ban: A Hong Kong-based investment firm has launched a new stablecoin which is backed by the Japanese Yen in defiance of the mainland China government that has overall control over the running of the special Chinese region.

Grandshores Technology group announced that a funding round will be launched in late 2018 or early 2019 by the company. The company’s announcement was bold considering China’s continuing overbearing stance on cryptocurrencies and ban on ICOs. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the country and is looking to promote cryptocurrencies within its own little umbrella despite facing pressure from China itself.

Australia

North Queensland becomes hub for cryptocurrency adoption: Queensland in Northern Australia is becoming a new center for cryptocurrency adoption in the country with merchant adoption for Bitcoin Cash.

The region is home to the first BCH-only ATM in the country and has its own Bitcoin Cash Meetup as well. Also, there are several large and small merchants in the area that are accepting BCH. All in all, 73 of them are accepting the fourth largest cryptocurrency as payments for their customers. Residents can even buy coffee with Bitcoin Cash as well.

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Crypto Fast Becoming Only Way to Pay in Northern Queensland

From Queensland International Airport to the northern parts of the state, this area of Australia is leading the rush in utilizing cryptocurrency as the way to pay, replacing more conventional card usage and the necessity to carry cash.

As covered by Bitcoin News last month and earlier this week in a televized BBC One piece on English TV, a microcosm of Queenslander’s changing crypto face has become the busy beachside tourist town of Agnes Water which has rightly laid claim to being the country’s first digital currency-friendly town.

With more than 30 businesses now taking Bitcoin as payment around the area including guest houses, hotels, restaurants, taxis, stores, and most retailers, payment is just a QR code away from an instant transaction. Now the region of North Queensland now boasts over 100 outlets for Bitcoin payments. As TravelbyBit’s CEO Caleb Yeoh observed regarding the new phenomenon:

“If you travel around the world you have to deal with multiple currencies, the exchange rate can be confusing, sometimes you struggle to find ATMs, and sometimes you get swindled by money changers… Travelling with one global currency like Bitcoin… makes sense.”

The move towards accepting Bitcoin for fast cardless payments is not only gaining traction as it moves its way around Northern Queensland. In some areas, cryptocurrency is now becoming the preferred method of payment along with Bitcoin Cash, and in some case its the only way to pay, putting credit and debit cards under pressure.

As one Reddit user observed, “Many merchants in North Queensland are choosing to accept only Bitcoin Cash, these merchants are well informed and well organized, why are they choosing to concentrate on Bitcoin Cash for their electronic commerce needs.”

Users in Northern Queensland often have numerous crypto methods of payment at their disposal including, NEM (XEM), Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ethereum (ETH) which doesn’t simply limit them to a choice of one currency. Freedom of choice seems to be the requirement of most users when it comes to preferred methods of QR payment, many having multiple currency wallets accessed through their phones.

In July, a senior representative of Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) predicted that there would be little likelihood of Bitcoin being widely adopted in Australia in the future due to its price volatility compared to the stability of the Australian dollar.

A trip to Northern Queensland may offer the RBA rep a picture of the future, particularly if the movement spreads across the states at its current pace. Currently, for many in the area, the only way to pay is in crypto.

 

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Farmers Worldwide Are Now Seeing Blockchain’s Real Advantages

Farmers are beginning to see the potential of new technology, including blockchain, as a solution to supply chain problems in the industry.

Although farmers are sometimes skeptical towards tech solutions coming from an industry steeped in traditional methods, more of them are taking the plunge given the obvious advantages of blockchain’s supply chain clarity and accountability.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field/farm to table.

Organizations such as Olam Farming Information System offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world. With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

In mid-2017 Af Funder calculated a potential $213 million was there to be accrued by farm management software and IoT start-ups due to rising interest within the industry. Most development in the industry has been in traceability solutions which many smaller producers have already adopted.

However, there is the potential for blockchain to operate in the farming industry on a much larger scale, such as the French supermarket giant Carrefour’s blockchain project which began tracking its chicken supply earlier this year. This provided customers with an egg to table history by using a smartphone to scan a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

The potential to cut down on an illegal harvesting and shipping fraud are other advantages. A new project in Kerala in India’s deep south will now be ensuring that goods now include RFID tags and the use of IoT devices to monitor transportation and delivery, primarily of milk, vegetables, and fish. All components of the milk supply chain will be strictly monitored and recorded on the blockchain.

Projects like this are making illegal trading far more difficult; the cost of food fraud has now reached an estimated $40 billion a year according to the UN.

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